HOUSTON, Texas – Rice University men’s basketball rallied from a second-half deficit but fell just short against Houston Baptist, 58-55, on Wednesday evening at Tudor Fieldhouse. Seth Gearhart led the Owls in scoring for the fifth time in seven games this season with 17 points.
Head coach Mike Rhoades said, “It was a disappointing loss, but I thought it was one of our best defensive performances of the season. HBU did a good job, they run great plays. If you would have told me we’d hold them to 58 points I would have thought that would put us in a good place. We didn’t shoot well today; we had a lot of open threes and we had some soft finishes. We’ve got to get tougher and stronger. We had a lot of good opportunities in the second half to finish it.”
The Owls trailed by nine points with 4:32 to play in regulation but took off on an 11-3 run to pull within one point on a Max Guercy layup with 22.6 seconds remaining. Free throws pushed HBU’s lead back up to three points and none of Rice’s final three attempts found the bottom of the net in the final moments as the visitors held on for the win.
Gearhart added five rebounds and a pair of assists. The senior made all eight free throws and 4-of-9 field goals with one of the Owls’ four three-pointers. Four of his foul shots came down the stretch to close the gap from seven points to three. Guercy finished with seven points and three steals.
Sophomore Marcus Jackson also scored in double figures with 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting. He added a career-high eight rebounds and dished out three of the team’s eight assists.
Bishop Mency scored eight points off the bench on 3-of-6 shooting with a pair of treys. He added two steals and a rebound in 32 minutes of action. Andrew Drone added five points, three rebounds and two blocks while Van Green chipped in six rebounds and four points.
The Owls shot 37.3 percent from the field and sank 4-of-19 three-pointers but added 13 points in 15 attempts at the line. HBU shot 42.3 percent in the game and 5-of-16 from long range.
The Huskies owned a 37-31 advantage on the glass with 11 second-chance points on 11 offensive rebounds. Rice held a 26-24 edge in points in the paint.
HBU’s Colter Lasher led his team with 16 points and three steals while Ricmonds Vilde grabbed eight boards.
Rice’s home stand continues on Saturday, Dec. 6 against St. Edward’s. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Tudor Fieldhouse.